SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, is reiterating her opposition to a package of bills that seek to change Southern Illinois University’s organizational structure.
HB 1292, 1294 and 5860 were introduced by State Reps. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea; Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville; Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey; and LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis after an attempt to rework SIU’s funding formula failed to pass the Board of Trustees in April.
One bill would separate the SIU campuses by creating separate boards of trustees for Carbondale and Edwardsville; another would require equal state appropriations funding for each campus; and a third would mandate an equal number of SIUC and SIUE alumni on the SIU Board of Trustees.
Bryant spoke out against the legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday, calling the bills “a direct attack on Southern Illinois University Carbondale.”
“SIU Carbondale is a nationally accredited research university, one of only two in Illinois. … I believe that the Democrat-sponsored attack on SIU Carbondale willfully ignores the importance of the research that is performed at SIUC,” Bryant said.
The bills passed the House Higher Education Committee on April 19 and are awaiting a second reading.
“As a Murphysboro resident, as a proud supporter of SIUC, and as a member of the House Higher Ed Committee, I firmly believe that Southern Illinois University will be healthier and more attractive as a cohesive unit, and I believe splitting the system apart will weaken it,” Bryant said.
In her remarks, Bryant cast doubt on the claims that the Edwardsville campus is growing exponentially, and she called for an independent, external study on funding allocation between the two campuses — something Stuart also requested this week, but for different reasons.
On Thursday, Stuart called for the Illinois Board of Higher Education to conduct an independent, unbiased study to review the division of state funding.
“I want the Edwardsville campus to be recognized for the growth and accomplishments they have attained. Recent enrollment trends have seen Edwardsville growing and on the path to exceeding enrollments at Carbondale, and state-funded support should reflect that changing reality,” Stuart said in a news release.
She said Edwardsville is now a residential campus and has spurred growth in the city and surrounding area.
“I believe it is time to look at a change to the governance and funding of the Southern Illinois University system that creates a fair system for our students, and an independent study is the first step we need in the process,” Stuart said.